When and Why Jesus Came

We often have an image of the first Christmas as a peaceful scene, beautiful stars shining on a quiet night, shepherds serenely watching their flocks in beautiful green moonlit pastures and the people going about their quiet lives. When in reality the scene of Israel at that time was nothing close to peaceful or serene.

Israel was under enemy occupation, the culture was in turmoil, and the people under oppression. There was political unrest and instability with new leaders coming and going. Those in authority feared assassination by those hungry for power. Laws were imposed upon the people. The enemy built fortresses throughout the land, providing a visual reminder of their bondage. Taxation oppressed the people. Fear of slavery, imprisonment, loss of property or even crucifixion was real for the people of Israel.

It was during these dark days that God chose to send His Son to earth.

However, God did not send His only Son to bring physical deliverance from Rome’s oppression, or to rid the land of its enemy occupants, or to provide stability for the country, or to bring in an era of peace.

The God of the universe had the power to do all of these things, but what He came to accomplish was far more profound. It was something spiritual, something that has the power to affect every living soul individually.

Jesus did not come to overthrow His enemies; He came to save His enemies.

And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight. (Colossians 1:21-22)

Jesus did not come to avenge those who had died by the hands of their enemies; He came to die for those who deserved death.

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. ( Romans 6:23)

Jesus did not come to free those in Roman dungeons; He came to free those who were slaves of their own sins.

But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
(Romans 6:22)

Jesus did not come to break Roman control; He came to break the power of the law of sin and death.

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2)

Jesus came to deliver sinners from eternal torment and separation from God.

That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:12-13)

Jesus did not come to usher in an era of peace; He came to offer peace with God to those who had wronged Him with their sin.

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)

Jesus came so those who were dead in sin could have abundant life.

I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (John 10:10b)

Jesus came to make a way to enter God’s presence.

Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14, 16)

Jesus came to make a way for sinners to have fellowship with the King of kings and Lord of lords.

That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. (John 1:3)

Jesus came to offer rest to those who trust in Him.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your soul. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

Jesus came to bring joy.

And now come I [Jesus] to thee [the Father]; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.
(John 17:13)

The state of Israel during the era when Jesus came portrays a beautiful contrast to what He came to accomplish, not circumstantially, but in the hearts and lives of those who place their trust in Him!

We are often faced with trouble or hard circumstances that do not lend themselves to freedom, peace, rest or joy; but in Christ these things can be found no matter the situation!

This is why Jesus came!

DIY Christmas Gifts

Looking for a DIY Christmas gift you can give to friends, family, teachers or co-workers? Check out some of our favorite DIY projects that you can easily whip up in bulk quantities to share with those you love. 

_____________________________________________________________

Chai Tea


Every year my sister-in-law makes me this chai tea recipe for Christmas and I couldn’t be happier! The batches from her have gradually gotten bigger and bigger over the years because apparently all of my friends love drinking it too when they come over and I seem to be running out of it earlier each year. You can package the chai tea in a glass mason jar with a pretty bow if you are wanting to gift a larger amount or you can package them in smaller 2-serving packages (like the ones pictured using a treat bag, etc.) if you just want a little something to hand out at work, etc.

Ingredients:
1 c. nonfat dry milk powder
1 c. powdered non-dairy creamer
1 c. french vanilla powdered creamer
2 ½ c, white sugar
1 ½ c. unsweetened instant tea
2 t. ground ginger
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. ground cloves
1 t. ground cardamom
½ t. ground nutmeg

Directions:
Mix all ingredients together. Use a food processor if finer texture is desired. Serve 3 heaping tablespoons with 1 cup of hot water.

Note: If you can’t find the required unsweetened instant tea in your local grocery store you can actually order it on Amazon and have it delivered right to your front door.

_______________________________________________________________

Candy Sleigh

If you need something for kids (but really adults too!) this one is sure to please. Just gather candy canes and an assortment of chocolate bars/candy and start stacking! Use small amounts of hot glue to secure as needed, then tie it all together with a ribbon and top with a bow!

______________________________________________________________

Christmas Potpourri

If you want your house to smell amazing around the holidays then make sure you double this recipe so you can keep some for yourself! You won’t regret it. Package in a clear treat bag or mason jar. Attach a bow and the recipe/instructions.

______________________________________________________________

Photo Coasters

I’ve enjoyed making these personalized coasters for family members in the past. You can use personal photos for those you are close to or if you want something for your next door neighbor, teacher or coworker you can just use pretty scrapbook paper.

Either way, these coasters make a beautiful gift, are friendly on the budget and extremely easy to make! What’s not to love? Check out the link below for instructions on how to make some for your own friends/family.

 

http://www.cardstore.com/blog/how-to-make-coasters/

_____________________________________________________________

Almond Biscotti

Giving someone the gift of homemade biscotti is a sure way to make them feel special. Tell them to sit down, prop their feet up and enjoy a hot drink while dipping this yummy biscotti into their cup. 

Give Thanks for the Church

This season of holidays fills our calendar. We prioritize shopping, decorating, baking, family reunions, gatherings with friends and gift giving.

When I really stop and consider Christ’s gifts, I realize that one of His greatest blessings gets pushed aside by the business of the season.

This gift is the Church!

Let us stop and considered all the blessings God provides through His Church and choose to praise Him and prioritize this extraordinary gift!

 

  • A place to remember Christ’s sacrifice as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper together
  • We are encouraged and built up / A place to encourage and build each other up
  • A place to grow in our understanding of God through the teaching of His Word
  • A place to sing praises to God corporately 
  • A place to form friendships that are founded in Christ’s saving work in our lives
  • A community of people who pray for you.
  • A place where our children are taught the Word and Songs
  • A place to help us train our children in the Lord
  • A place where our children have friends
  • An opportunity to care and be cared for
  • A place to practice our spiritual gifts
  • A community (a body!) to pitch in during hard times
  • A community of people to weep and rejoice with
  • A place where we are reminded of truths we are quick to forget  
  • A place to see how God is at work in the lives of other people  
  • A place to see answered prayers
  • A chance to be involved in missions beyond next-door-neighbors. 
  • A place to be convicted of sin and repent
  • A place to obey God’s command to gather with God’s people 
  • A place to recount God’s faithfulness and goodness in our lives
  • A place to come alongside each other and bear each other’s burdens
  • A place to celebrate baptism and new life in Christ
  • A place for the intentional preaching of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ
  • A place to publicly exalt the name of the Lord 
  • A place to love and serve each other 
  • A place to learn theology 
  • A place to spur each other towards godliness 
  • A place to celebrate the diversity within the Body of Christ

Praise God for our Church!

GodMan – Our Savior Understands!

GodMan

That idea just blows my mind.

I know it is true…but I can’t wrap my head around it regardless of how much I try.

So, I accept it by faith.

The implications of God becoming man are truly awesome!

God took on humanity, came to earth as a helpless baby, became one of us, to save us!

That fact is so profound!

Yet, He did even more!

The fact that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, took on the likeness of mankind impacts me beyond salvation, it touches me TODAY, right here, right now!

When I am having a hard day, when I’m tired, when I’m tempted to give into sin, when I’m in need, when I’m grieving, when I’m wishing things could be different, when I’m hurt by the action or words of another…Jesus KNOWS and understands.

God became a man, experienced the hardships of life in order that He could experientially identify with what mankind goes through and be an understanding High Priest .

Jesus was tired (John 4:6)

Jesus battled with Satan’s temptation to sin. (Matthew 4:8-10)

Jesus experienced physical hunger. (Matthew 4:2)

Jesus lost a friend to death. (John 11)

Jesus struggled when He was on His way to the cross. (Luke 22:42-44)

Jesus was betrayed by His closest friends. (Luke 22:47-61)

He did not have to do that.

But He stepped into our shoes in order to be a Savior Friend who understands our struggles.

Though He is not marred by sin like you and I, He understands the temptations.

Jesus could have come to earth, died for our sins and returned to heaven.

But He did so much more than that for us.

He experienced the hardships of life from beginning to end.

Hebrews 4:14 – 16 says

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Understanding these truths helps in our day to day; realizing that our Savior understands, experientially, what we are going through. He knows how to take our requests, struggles, burdens to God. Because He KNOWS!

Let’s come before the throne of Grace with every need, desire, heart ache and thank Him that He knows!

 

~ Rachel

 

 

 

Applesauce Cinnamon Ornaments

Last year I was able to make these fun applesauce cinnamon ornaments at our local Moms group. Literally the only ingredients in these ornaments is applesauce and cinnamon.

I know, it sounds weird, but it works!

You do need lots of cinnamon.

LOTS of cinnamon.

The recipe is simple. Just mix together in a large bowl:
1 portion Cinnamon
1 portion Applesauce

In other words, use a 1:1 ratio of cinnamon and applesauce. Believe it or not, this combination of applesauce and cinnamon turns into a dough that can be rolled out and cut like sugar cookies! Use cinnamon as flour on the table surface to keep the dough from sticking.

At the Moms of Hot Springs gathering, there were 6-8 ladies who made ornaments. Between all of us, we used 2 large jars of applesauce and about 2 1/2 large Tones Cinnamon containers. There was plenty of dough for everyone to make at least a baking-sheet worth of ornaments.

If you’re wanting to make a small batch for just your family, you might want to start with only one or two cups each of applesauce and cinnamon.

Once the dough is rolled out to the desired thickness, use cookie cutters or get creative and make your own shapes to personalize them. Since it was Talitha’s first Christmas when I made these, I made a couple simple circles with her handprint and the year on them. They turned out super cute–I just love how tiny her hand looks!

After cutting the shapes, make a hole for the ribbon. The easiest way to do this is with a straw—just poke it into the dough, and ta-DAH! You’ve got a perfect hole, waiting for a ribbon!

Place the ornaments on an ungreased cookie sheet.

To dry the ornaments, you have two options:

1. You can let these simply air-dry for several days, turning them over every day to help with the drying process.

2. You can bake them at 200 degrees for 2 hours.

I air-dried mine, but I hear that baking these ornaments will make the house smell quite yummy!

And yes, these fun ornaments are quite durable and hardy! One of the ladies at our moms’ get-together said she and her husband made these ornaments the first year they were married–and they still hang them on their Christmas tree, six years later!

I hope you have as much fun with these as I did!

~Angie